It all began with a coat and a smile. After handing out coats collected for a St. Louis inner city elementary school in the winter of 2001, a student approached me grinning ear to ear exclaiming, “My dad will be so happy about my new coat!” I’d noticed the young man arriving earlier on the school bus wearing a coat that dragged along the pavement – hardly warm and snug – and thought to myself that it was most likely his father’s hand-me-down. In that moment, I knew my life’s purpose.
At the time, I had no idea of the depth of poverty over 173,000 children must overcome just minutes from my home. Children who are curious, funny and warm, who hope and dream like any other, and whose futures depend on what they are able to do with their education. But consider the obstacles they face. Many go without shoes that fit or clean underwear and socks. They come to school with little more than shirts in the winter months and go home to empty food cabinets. They aren’t prepared with school supplies or have a book to call their own. Many have undiagnosed health conditions or vision problems that go uncorrected. Some are homeless, touched by violence and constantly on the move. How much can we expect them to concentrate in class or feel good about themselves?
This became the mission of The Little Bit Foundation: to remove obstacles standing in front of the greatest opportunity students have to end the cycle of poverty – their education. It’s providing for basic needs, such as shoes, coats, uniforms, underwear and socks, books and school supplies. It’s ensuring students have a nutritious meal after the school day, receive instruction in personal and dental hygiene, have access to medical screenings and mental health intervention. We are about helping students see and present themselves in a positive light, ensuring they are comfortable and content in the classroom, and uplifting them with words of encouragement and the knowledge that someone cares and believes in them.
We are The Little Bit Foundation, and I encourage you to join our incredible, life-changing journey!